Who should you share this
with ? Business Consultants State Bodies Business Owners Financial Controllers Marketing Managers Website Agencies Internet Consultants SEO Consultants
Please note that the discovery
or identification of any of issues,symptoms or problems described herein do not necessarilyindicate a direct failure or problem with your SEO strategy. It’s ahigh level document designed to help website owners, webmastersand others to discuss and learn about SEO and to create moreunderstanding. If you have concerns, then discuss them with yourweb team and with some other SEO’s.It’s also worth noting that in an experience-led profession, it maybe helpful to have more than one person create, manage andimplement your overall SEO and Search Strategies.
Some background education • SEO
stands for Search Engine Optimisation • SEO is process or set of activities designed to help search engines discover, understand, index and rank websites• Google supports users, designers and marketers with free information, guidelines and tools to help them
Making it clear• Google has
a strong set of DO’s and DONT’s that constitute it’s Terms of Service (TOS).• Violating the TOS can result in a range of penalties, including being dropped or removed from Google’s Search Index• Google constantly expands this list to ensure that it easy to understand and implement
Defining “bad” SEOAny activity, techniques
or strategies that could result in being listed = BlackhatAny strategy or activity that doesn’t work or takes too long = opportunity loss Any strategy or activity that damages you, your brand or your business through bad publicity or misrepresentation
Avoid Spam. At all costs.
Many spammers, particularly those based overseas, don’t even know that they are spamming. It’s not enough to ask – get a contract that includes a NO- SPAM clause. If the vendor breaks it, they are in breech of contract or guilty of fraud if they planned to use spam at the outset
Avoid Guarantees. Avoid any company
who has any form of guaranteed or pre-secured placements. They don’t exist. Especially avoid any company that suggests that they have a special relationship with Google. Google’s Ranking system is not only closed, it’s possible to directly benefit or promote a website within it.
Be careful of Sales Centres
Many SEO Websites don’t have a real base and are just a front for an overseas company. Whoever you employ, you need to know the people that will be designing, implementing and measuring your SEO campaign. Always ask for referees that are relevant, and speak to them.
Some practices to watch for
You get e-mails from people who complain your company is spamming their blog Blog spam is a first sign of bad practice SEO. Having someone leave spam comments on other blogs is a no-no. This practice is a sign of either laziness or badly managed SEO. It’s short sighted and doesn’t work. There isn’t really any excuse: if your SEO is aware of – or worse, condones - this practice, then they could get you into a lot of trouble
Do the math.... Check the
hourly rate you’re being charged or the pro rata rate if paying a retainer... If its too good to be true,.... Any two companies are free to choose a contract rate that is mutually agreeable but if you’re paying less than the average industrial rate or even minimum wage, then something could be wrong. This is quite common and signals either that the hours are manufactured or that the company is off-shoring. This isn’t bad per se but they should be upfront. If you’re paying less than €10 per hour and the minimum wage is higher – then something doesn’t add up.
Working with just a small
set of keywords Your SEO limits you to a small set of keywords (phrases) There shouldn’t be a number limit. There are natural limits due to competition but focusing on groups such as 10, 15 or 20 don’t really make sense. They include long tail and permutations too. This is very common where the SEO company is buying links from spam-ware services which typically group keywords either by single digits or groups like 5 and 10.
Is your site being used
for free self promotion? Your SEO Agency puts a link to themselves on your site In my opinion, there is nothing worse – using a collection of client sites for free advertising. This is a terrible practice – it does nothing for your own site except alert competitors to who you’re using. There’s no reason for this for you – insist on having it removed.
About Google Webmaster toolsTools like
the Index tool, Robots Access Control, Sitesettings and others are very precise and powerful tools. It’svery easy to get these wrong or to forget to adjust them.Incorrect settings can cause dramatic effects quite quickly.For example, blocking a site via the Robots control file orsetting a wrong country.In most cases, however, these are reasonably easy to undoand the site will return to normal within a few days orweeks.
Getting Penalised• Most penalties aren’t
penalties at all• You can check to see if your site is blocked• Get in touch with your webmaster and other industry professionals to get their opinion• How to check for a complete ban/delisting:• Google [Site:mydomain.com]• If the site isn’t returned, it means that it may be delisted.
What to do next• Find
out what you may have done to be penalised• Have the site checked with Google Webmaster tools – There may be messages or notes from Google that may tell you what is wrong – Test the Fetch as Googlebot tool to make sure its accessible• Get some professional help
Resolution• Google User Support Forums•
Webmaster Forums• Repair the site and make sure it meets Google’s Guidelines• Request a review of your site and outline what happened and what you’ve done to rectify it
Common Issues• Cloaking (accidental and
intentional)• Robots file blocking access to part or all of the site• Incorrect Geo Setting• Badly structured site – no user sitemap for example• HTML that Google can’t parse. A good example is having two title tags for example• Bad 404 handlers, especially pages that are malformed or content cloners
Some good advice...• Seek more
than one opinion – Talk to different SEO’s and Website owners• Discuss your options• Look for transparency• Arrange to meet regularly• Always have a list of actions• Doing it? Then measure it!
How to deal with the
end stage• If you have been banned or are at significant risk – Discuss this with your existing vendor – See what they offer in terms of rectifying the situation – If they propose to “fix” it, do you trust their workmanship?
Moving on• Find a reputable
company with good clients and strong industry recommendations• Talk to Enterprise Ireland if you’re a client – Or talk to your County Enterprise Board• Talk to your business associates• Google SEO, in your county, city or country – A good SEO should have a rank of somesort